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Spring Awakening

2017.02.15


The bottom line wasn’t so pretty for many of the retailers that recently reported first quarter results, but there was a spate of welcome news coming from the home department.

Most importantly, home is on the rebound at JCPenney both in-store and online. But it’s worth noting (as Penney execs did) that during last year’s first quarter 70% of the floor space in home was off-limits to shoppers as the retailer undertook the ultimately unsuccessful “transformation” of the department. If Penney hadn’t shown improvement against such a lousy comparison it would be time to break out the torches and the pitchforks.

But to give the current team its due, home sales were a healthy contributor to comp this time out, according to ceo Mike Ullman. He also said sales are “back to the former levels.” The question is which former levels – the ones in the Questrom/Chinni heyday or the ones before the department was ripped apart in spring 2013? I would imagine the latter.

Similarly, while Walmart U.S.’s first quarter wasn’t exactly one to crow about overall, home did a nice business – especially in housewares and basics. Home was also strong online. At Sam’s Club, home delivered a low single-digit positive comp. That was slightly off pace, but execs pointed to slack movement in mattresses during the quarter due to bad weather.

Home has been a winner at Stein Mart for the past few quarters and the most recent was no different, the company noted as it previewed its quarterly performance. We’ll learn more when Stein Mart releases its full results later this week (May 22).

Tuesday Morning’s pivot toward emphasizing home merchandise helped generate a 2.6% sales increase and a 6.4% jump in comps during the most recent quarter, which for the retailer is its fiscal Q3. Company ceo Michael Rouleau said Tuesday Morning will continue to concentrate on winning areas of the business: home décor, textiles, rugs, furniture, and other home goods.

But the good news for home didn’t extend across the board. Kohl’s is still scrambling to get its mojo back, and home underperformed the company’s 3.4% comp decline. Bright spot: Soft home was the best sales generator in an otherwise weak department.

Macy’s also experienced softness in home during the first quarter – a department that had been turning in fairly solid results during the past several quarters. Execs attributed the stumble to bad weather, which impacted sales of big ticket items and outdoor merchandise. By early April, home was getting back on track, according to the company.

Looking at what we know so far, home appears to be shaking off the post-recession doldrums across most retail channels. The picture will come into better focus this week as we receive quarterly results from Home Depot and Lowe’s (both subject to the fortunes of the housing and remodeling markets), Williams-Sonoma (the canary in the coal mine for better home products), TJX (which snatched up market share in home during the recession and never let it go) and Target (are data breaches and the wobbly Canadian rollout the only problems there?).


Source: Home and Textiles Today

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